I’m someone who has always loved spending lots of time at home. Don’t get me wrong, I also love going out, seeing people, experiencing new things and having big adventures. But man, for me, nothing beats the great indoors.
While not everyone is quite as much of a homebody as I am, we all end up with some long periods of time at home now and then. It could be because of the weather, a health issue, a staycation, or a global disaster (lookin’ at you, COVID-19).
Whatever the reason, there will be times when you find yourself staying in one place for a while with some extra time on your hands. This can be a great opportunity if you’re willing to take it. All you need is a bit of a roadmap!
An Adventurer’s Guide to the Great Indoors
Life at home can be a beautiful gift, even to the most adventurous wanderluster. It can’t replace everything that you have out there in the great, big outside world (and ideally, it shouldn’t), but your home is still the headquarters of your life.
It’s a place where great joy lives. It’s also a place where you can nourish and take care of yourself. And of course, it’s an epicenter of personal growth and a well of new experiences, if you know where to look for them.
Let me be your guide. As a grizzled, veteran explorer of the great indoors, I know this territory inside and… well… in. Here are some of my top suggestions for making the best of the situation (and yourself) when you’re stuck inside.
1. Learn a New Skill, Hobby, or Language
If you’ve got a day at home and you’re not sure how to fill it, learning something new is a great place to start.
We live in the information age. For all that’s wrong with the world we live in, it’s a veritable utopia when it comes to public access to information.
You have been granted access to the sum of all human knowledge. It is available to you from several different devices right at home in the great indoors, and most of it is out there for free. To just leave it all sitting there unused is practically criminal when you could be using it to broaden your horizons and develop new abilities.
Try something new. It doesn’t have to end up being the new great thing that your whole life is about. But you’ll never find that thing if you’re not trying. Just dip a toe in something new, and see how you like it.
You can try out a new language on Duolingo, or mess around with programming on Codecademy. There are also more ways than ever to take free university courses online. And it doesn’t even need to be anything as highfalutin as all that; even learning a new party trick on YouTube exercises your brain and opens new possibilities.
Sometimes just taking the first step changes your perception of the whole field.
2. Celebrate Life
You never need a reason to celebrate. Holidays, special occasions, and big milestones are great, but when’s the last time you just celebrated being alive?
Every day you continue having the opportunity to explore this world is reason enough to celebrate. And you can celebrate however you like: dance, throw a little party with your housemates, play your favorite games, make up new games!
Even on the worst days, there’s usually something to celebrate. And seeking out something to celebrate creates gratitude, and a fresh appreciation for what you have. It shifts your attention away from what you lack and toward what you can have in abundance – peace, joy, and comfort.
“I know of a place where you never get harmed,
A magical place with magical charms,
Indoors, indoors, INDOORS”Spongebob Squarepants, The Indoors Song
Just like smiling, celebration can be somewhat self-fulfilling. Evidence has shown that smiling, even for no reason at all, triggers a reaction that makes you feel happy.
The same is true of dancing in your living room. The exercise, combined with an external expression of joy, creates an internal feeling of happiness to match.
Life is awesome, even on the days that it totally sucks, so don’t forget to celebrate it often, even from the great indoors!
3. Practice Great Self Care
Self care is kind of all the rage these days, and for good reason. We all have gaps where our physical, mental, or emotional needs are not being fully met. That brings us down and holds us back from doing big and beautiful things.
Self care is simply the language that is still developing to talk about those gaps, and how best to supplement those needs.
Be careful not to mix this up with self-indulgence. Many self care activities are relaxing. Most of them feel good in some way. But not everything that feels good in the short term is necessarily self care.
Watching your favorite TV show could be self care if it’s helping you recharge from something difficult and move on to your next thing. But sinking into long periods of TV for lack of something else to do will make you feel worse instead of better.
One way to approach self care is by trying to act as your own parent. You want what’s best for your health and wellbeing. Sometimes that’s fun, and sometimes it’s not as fun, but it will always lead to a happier and healthier you in the long term. Focus on what your mind and body need, rather than what you want.
And please note, while acting as your own parent, the bad jokes and embarrassing jeans are optional.
4. Travel (Very) Domestically
One of the things that makes long stretches at home difficult is the lack of novelty. Routine is important for a healthy, functioning life, but spending every day in the same few rooms is a little too much routine. Shake it up with a bit of ingenuity and imagination.
You can inject a lot of novelty into a familiar space with just a little creativity. Try some of these:
Camping Trip – Got a tent? Set up camp in your backyard, on your porch, or in the living room. Pack a cooler, lay out the sleeping bags, and spend a night enjoying the great outdoors (or the great indoors). If you want to get really wild, play some nighttime nature sounds from your phone (isn’t
nature technology wonderful?)..
Date Night – Take your partner out to a nice restaurant, the movies, or a cocktail bar, right from home! You have the main components already: food, movies, drinks, etc. It doesn’t normally feel as special at home, but you can make it special. Take the time to set up the space, get dressed up, set the lights, put on some music, make a special meal or drink, and head out on the townhouse!
Day at the Beach – Grab some towels, sunscreen, and a frisbee, and head out to whatever outdoor spaces you have (even if that’s a porch or patio). You may not have a spare ocean, but you can still have a day of sun and fun right at home! For added authenticity, you can put a little bit of sand in all of the food you bring.
These things won’t fully replace the adventurous rush of heading out and exploring the world. But they nourish the exploratory spirit, and make for a lot of fun in the meantime!
5. The Home Gym and You
There are some elements of your neighborhood gym that you just can’t replace – the full set of free weights, the floor-to-ceiling mirrors for taking those kickin’ selfies, and that one guy who leaves his sweat on ALL of the equipment and doesn’t put anything away. I call him Carl. We are not friends.
But you can still get everything you need for a regular fitness routine from the great indoors. If you’ve got a treadmill, a few dumbbells, or one of those weird 1950s vibrating belt machines lying around, that’s great. But it isn’t necessary for getting in a good workout.
Well, the weird belt machine is, obviously.
You can stay healthy and get exercise anywhere, even with no equipment at all. After all, there were fit people around long before all this fancy modern gear came along. Spartacus didn’t have a Bowflex, and he did just fine (I mean, he was killed in battle in the end, but boy did he look good doing it).
If you want strength training, you can do body weight exercises (like push-ups, crunches, and squats) or use household objects as weights. If cardio is what you’re looking for, then you can find all sorts of aerobics routines online. There’s also yoga, pilates, HIIT workouts, and about a million other options.
Whatever your preferences, goals, limitations, and space, there’s something out there you can do to stay fit. So find something you like and get to it!
I know you miss Carl and his inexplicably moist skin, but he’ll still be there when you get back, grunting way too loudly on the rowing machine and crop dusting the dumbbell rack.
6. Work on Your Cashflow
If you’ve got some free time in the great indoors, then there’s no better time to work on improving your finances.
First of all, there’s plenty you can do to save more of your money. You can make a new budget, or update an old one. It could also be a good time to check up on your bills, and see if there are any you could reduce, or shop around for a better option. Another option is to consider moving your savings to a new bank that will give you better rates and/or lower fees.
If saving isn’t where you’re focused right now, there is an ever-growing number of ways to earn more income from home. For instance, you can pick up some freelance or gig-oriented work. Or, you could start a new business or side hustle, like opening an online shop or starting to create some kind of digital content for others to consume (like an awesome blog!).
And finally, there are the opportunities to grow what you have. If you have savings available that you’re not planning to use in the near future, even a small amount, it could be a great time to invest it for some long term growth. And there’s never a bad time to invest in yourself and your own personal finance education. Pick a topic and hop into a book, blog, or podcast focused on that topic. See what you can learn!
7. Make The Great Indoors of Your Home Awesome
If we’re going to be stuck in here, we might as well make it freaking awesome. Your home is your palace. Prove me right on this, you know you want to. That way, you’ll love your time at home a lot more, and I’ll finally be justified in approaching random strangers on the street to tell them I was right about something. To be clear, I’ll do that anyway, I’d just rather it be accurate.
Your home should be a place that makes you feel comfortable, safe, and happy. Even when it feels like you’ve been trapped in it for ages and you’ll never see the sun again, your home is still a special place.
One option is to tidy up some. Put things away, wipe down surfaces, and circulate some fresh air in there. No one really likes cleaning (I do, but that pretty much makes me legally a serial killer). That doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.
Housekeeping is a form of self-respect, and promotes a clear mind and a sense of contentedness.
You can also try clearing things out and making more space in your home. You don’t have to go full-on minimalist in order to reap some of the peace and levity that comes from tossing out some old clutter.
All of this is good for clearing negative vibes out of your house, but there’s also a lot of good you can add. Put up (or make) some new decor; rearrange the furniture; fix something that causes a small annoyance; make a Rube Goldberg machine to serve you breakfast!
DIY projects work double-duty for happiness. The work itself is usually satisfying, and the outcome is a home environment that you love more. In other words, you can make the great indoors even greater.